Gmail Privacy, Facebook Likes and SEO #FridayFinds

by Sherryl Perry on August 16, 2013

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Did you hear about the recent motion that Google filed in the U.S. District Court regarding the privacy (or lack thereof) of Gmail? Have you noticed links in your Facebook News Feed that are accompanied by a “like” button? Are you interested in a handy glossary that explains some of the most widely used SEO terminology or learning about some of the best SEO tools and resources that are available? To learn more, check out this week’s post in my #FridayFinds series and be sure to share your views in the comment section.

Don’t Expect Your Gmail to Be Private:

Recently, I published an article about Facebook Graph Search Privacy Concerns. Now, this week I came across the article GOOGLE: If You Send To Gmail, You Have ‘No Legitimate Expectation Of Privacy’.  In Paul Szoldra’s article on SFGate.com, he reports that last month, Google filed a motion in the U.S. District Court requesting the dismissal of a class action suit. In the filing, Google claims:

 “Just as a sender of a letter to a business colleague cannot be surprised that the recipient’s assistant opens the letter, people who use web-based email today cannot be surprised if their emails are processed by the recipient’s [email provider] in the course of delivery. Indeed, ‘a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties.’”  (Motion to dismiss, Page 19)

John M. Simpson, director of the Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project, summed up his views when he said:

“People should take them at their word; if you care about your email correspondents’ privacy don’t use Gmail.”

Speaking of Facebook . . . What Are They up to Now?

Have you noticed links in your Facebook News Feed that include the opportunity to “like” a page? Facebook is testing a new way to promote brands. As of today, this feature has not been released to all users but it promises to be an opportunity for brands to increase the number of followers they have.

I haven’t read much on this latest update but you can learn a little more by reading Lauren Mobertz’s post Rumor: Facebook Promoting Brand Pages in Shared Links on Dashburst.com.

Alt-Text, Author Rank, Metadata, XML Sitemaps and More:

Do you know what a Canonical URL is? How about the definition of Everflux or what SERP stands for? Here’s a really simple SEO Training Glossary posted by WebsiteMagazine.com that may shed some light on some of the most common SEO jargon.

Are You Looking for Free SEO Tools?

Earlier this week, I tweeted The 100 Best Free SEO Tools & Resources for Every Challenge by Cyrus-Shepard on Moz.com. This is a resource that you’re going to want to bookmark for future reference. Not only does Cyrus list all of the tools alphabetically (with a brief description) but he has included an interactive graphic too! Just click on one of the categories (for example keyword research or link building) and you’ll be presented with the tools that match your interest.

Note: The majority of the tools are free but some also offer a premium version and 5 in this list are free trials.

Over to You:

What are your thoughts? Does Google’s lack of respect for your privacy concern you? Will their recent actions make you think differently about using Gmail? Have you seen the new “likes” in your Facebook News Feed? As always, please feel free to share your take on any of my finds this week.

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Arleen
Twitter:
August 21, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Sherryl- On TV recently there are ads in our area wanting to know if you have been Scroogled? I can see it on my Gmail account. I will write an email and see on the next email ads to right that relate to my email. I thought we should be able to trust our email provider to get rid of spam, at least I thought that was happening when I turned on the spam alert. Google is reading our private emails and they use it to push all kinds of junk mail. They are after to make a buck so they can target your what you wrote with ads. I am so frustrated.
Arleen recently posted..How To Reboot and Get Back to BusinessMy Profile

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
August 22, 2013 at 11:02 am

Arleen,
I had not seen the Scrrogle ads. (I rarely watch commercials.) So, thanks for sharing this.

I just “Googled” on it and came up with this: “Furthermore, if you use Gmail online or mobile and are ever disturbed by an ad you think is inappropriate, you can block individual advertisers through Google Ad Preferences, or you can opt out of getting personalized ads at all. That’s right, you can turn the whole thing off. You still see ads, because that’s how Google makes money, but they won’t be based on your emails or search terms. ”

That doesn’t solve the problem but at least it’s a step in the right direction. The solution is to not use Gmail.

Arleen
Twitter:
September 5, 2013 at 11:33 am

This was in the news today. Pretty sad state of affairs.
By MARTHA MENDOZA

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) – Google’s attorneys say their long-running practice of electronically scanning the contents of people’s Gmail accounts to help sell ads is legal, and are asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit that seeks to stop the practice.

In court records filed in advance of a federal hearing scheduled for Thursday in San Jose, Google argues that “all users of email must necessarily expect that their emails will be subject to automated processing.”

The class action lawsuit, filed in May, says Google “unlawfully opens up, reads, and acquires the content of people’s private email messages” in violation of California’s privacy laws and federal wiretapping statutes. The lawsuit notes that the company even scans messages sent to any of the 425 million active Gmail users from non-Gmail users who never agreed to the company’s terms.

Google has repeatedly described how it targets its advertising based on words that show up in Gmail messages. For example, the company says if someone has received a lot of messages about photography or cameras then it might display an advertisement from a local camera store. Google says the process is fully automated, “and no humans read your email…”

“This case involves Plaintiffs’ effort to criminalize ordinary business practices that have been part of Google’s free Gmail service since it was introduced nearly a decade ago,” argue company attorneys in their motion to dismiss the case.

Privacy advocates have long questioned the practice.

“People believe, for better or worse, that their email is private correspondence, not subject to the eyes of a $180 billion corporation and its whims,” said Consumer Watchdog president Jamie Court.
Arleen recently posted..How Sawaya Found the Building Blocks to SuccessMy Profile

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
September 6, 2013 at 6:46 pm

Thanks for sharing this Arleen.
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Silviu
Twitter:
August 19, 2013 at 11:56 am

Hi Sherryl,

When I “voluntarily” turn over information to third parties, Yes. However, Google is not my assistant and should just deliver the letter not open it. Now, they rely on the fact that Gmail is free. It’s a kind of deal. Dangerous deal.

I can use different email software, that is free. The only reason I didn’t was that “everybody uses Gmail”. From now on I will think about it seriously.

Question: does this mean that whenever I create a paypal account or something equivalent and they send me important usernames and passwords by Gmail, Google can find them? This is a dark perspective.

I checked the SEO tools link and bookmarked the page. Thank you

Have a nice day
Silviu recently posted..Viral Content Contest Case Study 1My Profile

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
August 20, 2013 at 5:25 pm

Silviu,
Carolyn Nicander Mohr shared a link (in her comment) to an article that is written from the viewpoint that the “declaration of lack of privacy seems to have been a bit overblown”. So, we all need to form our own opinions at this point. Personally, I rarely check my Gmail account. I only created one because I needed it when I signed up for Google+. (I also need it to download some apps for my Android.) I prefer to use email that is branded with my domain for business and I use an email account from my ISP for personal email..

Thanks for letting me know that you found the SEO tools handy. I bookmarked it too.

Jeannette Paladino
Twitter:
August 19, 2013 at 12:43 am

I think that privacy as we knew it is gone with the web. There are no secrets anymore. You can type someone’s name in the Google search box and find out age, felony convictions, schools attended, and just about anything else. You can run but you can’t hide anymore. Google is like Big Brother, dictating what we see when we do a search, according to what it THINKS we want based on past searches. The same search terms entered by two people will get entirely different results. So it’s not surprising that Google is defending their right to know the contents of your emails when they know so much about you already based on your past searches on Google.
Jeannette Paladino recently posted..Is This a New Trend – the Public Firing of Employees?My Profile

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
August 20, 2013 at 5:10 pm

Jeannette,
What you say is so true about the lack of privacy. As for Google search results, David Rekuc wrote a guest post for me a while ago titled “SEO Gets Social | How to Use Social to Get More out of Search”. In that post, David stated: “When Google users are logged into their Google account while searching, Google will use their Google+ relationships to influence links shown.” (He included screenshots to illustrate this.)

I actually like that Google feature for a lot of the searches that I do because when I’m researching something, it makes it easier for me to find articles from trusted sources. Having said that, when I don’t find what I expected (or I want a different viewpoint), I’ll use Bing. 🙂
Sherryl Perry recently posted..SEO Gets Social | How to Use Social to Get More out of SearchMy Profile

Jeannette Paladino
Twitter:
August 20, 2013 at 6:26 pm

Sherryl — good idea to use two browsers. I use Firefox, Safari and Chrome, but not the latter for Google searches!
Jeannette Paladino recently posted..Is This a New Trend – the Public Firing of Employees?My Profile

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
August 20, 2013 at 6:45 pm

I just go to Bing.com in Chrome. There’s also the option to set Bing (or Yahoo!) up as your default search engine in Chrome settings.

Carolyn
Twitter:
August 18, 2013 at 5:39 pm

Hi Sherryl, While I think Gmail is probably one of the least private email services, that declaration of lack of privacy seems to have been a bit overblown. Here’s an article from The Verge explaining the quote in context: http://www.theverge.com/2013/8/14/4621474/yes-gmail-users-have-an-expectation-of-privacy
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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
August 18, 2013 at 6:44 pm

Thanks for sharing this viewpoint Carolyn. It’s always good to read an article from someone with a different viewpoint.

As the article (that you linked to) points out, the 1979 Supreme Court case Smith v. Maryland) is the law. Even though in Google’s filing they state that “Non-Gmail users who send emails to Gmail recipients must expect that their emails will be subjected to Google’s normal processes as the [email] provider for their intended recipients”, I’m not comfortable using a 3rd part email account.

As I was researching this topic, I found many other well recognized authorities who are concerned about this issue including Marc Rotenberg, the head of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, D.C. and Micheal Vonn, policy director at the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.

This is turning into a great discussion. Thanks for adding to it!

Catarina
Twitter:
August 18, 2013 at 8:23 am

There is no privacy online so Google’s announcement about gmail didn’t surprise me at all.

The kind of Facebook feeds that you describe have been sent outby them in Sweden for a few months. They are really annoying. Suddenly you are encouraged to like a hamburger joint in a town not far from you, Apple’s products and a multitude of other brands and places. Am really tired of clicking that I’m not interested over and over again. Am sure you will feel the same.

Thanks for the list of free SEO tools. Bookmarked it.
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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
August 18, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Catarina,
What’s annoying me the most on FB is promoted posts. The last thing I want to see in my FB stream is a GoDaddy Ad. Why should I have to click on “I don’t want to see this”? It’s a total time waster. I pretty much rely on only looking at my lists which means I’m missing out on a lot of posts for sure (but that’s why I’m active on other sites).

You’re welcome. I’m glad like found the list of SEO tools valuable.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Friday Finds: Gmail Privacy, Facebook Likes and SEOMy Profile

dare khuji
Twitter:
August 18, 2013 at 4:45 am

@Leora and sherryl,

I am quite inclined to agree with leora on Facebook like promotions. Honestly, if not for the SEO advantage by sharing your posts and articles there, I don’t think I will still be on Facebook.

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
August 18, 2013 at 11:41 am

Dare,
The main reason that I stay on Facebook is to build top-of-mind awareness. For SEO, I’ll stick with Google+.

Ray Andrews
Twitter:
August 17, 2013 at 9:28 am

Not to be a Google or even a Facebook apologist but … Your email should be, and > 99% of the time, is read, no matter what mail server you use.

People seem to have this ‘feeling’ that it’s people reading their email, granted they know it’s just a computer, but that same feeling of personal violation is still there, so when a company actually admits to what every mail server does, they’re offended.

Would you like some spam ? No, me either. Would you like some junk mail ? Neither would most people. But without the services reading the email there is no way any of these can be filtered or flagged. Yes the servers could just read the header data, but that is so easy to manipulate it’s laughable.

Every mail server uses content analysis and bayesian filtering to read every one of the emails it processes for *at least* spam removal and junk mail filtering. When you send from sue @ abc.com to bob @ xyz.com both abc & xyz are reading the mail for these reasons as well as possibly looking for porn, company secrets, compliance issues, hack attempts, and so on. These companies do this for their own interests, be it personal security, protecting company secrets, or IT integrity. Google (et al.) do this as well for their interest, it just happens that their interests include demographic analysis.

People that are offended that a company would read *their* email for the companies own purposes, generally don’t realize that every company/ISP does.

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
August 18, 2013 at 11:35 am

Ray,
Thanks for taking the time to share your insight with us. I think we all need to realize that there’s inherent privacy issues involved when you’re using services like Google, Facebook or even your hosting vendor.

The reason that I found this particular story news worthy is that this lawsuit is in the courts. Reading what some of the experts are saying, here are a couple of quotes that I believe bring value to the conversation:

“It’s alarming for the world’s largest email service provider to say that they don’t have an obligation to protect privacy.” – Marc Rotenberg, privacy lawyer and head of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, D.C.

“Google can’t have it both ways. It can’t say in terms of this lawsuit, you have no reasonable expectation of privacy in your emails and say at the same time that it is effectively guarding your privacy ‘very seriously’. The simple fact here is that the business model has always been to capitalize on selling to advertisers, on the basis of the content of your information.” – Micheal Vonn, policy director at the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.

Ray August 17, 2013 at 2:42 am

It is getting to the point where nothing is private anymore especially with big corporations like Google and the government spying in the news so much lately. I find it difficult to trust anyone completely. There are also the hackers busting into systems and stealing info all the time too. Scammers and fraud is on my local news all the time. One of the drawbacks with all this technology is it makes it easier to take advantage of people.

Anyway I have never been a big fan of Google. I tried to read one of their policy statement things a few years ago for Adsense I think it was. It was so long and confusing most people would never understand it all.

There was a story in the news a while back about someone suing Gmail for a similar privacy thing. Something about sending an email from a 3rd party provider to a Gmail account and privacy. Not sure what ever became of it though. The big corporations like Google can get away with things and they have the money for big fancy lawyers.
Ray recently posted..Use WordPress on Your Computer Fast with LocalWPMy Profile

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
August 18, 2013 at 11:08 am

Ray,
I’m not a fan of Google either. I agree with you that companies like Google and Facebook have very confusing privacy agreements. I suspect a lot of people agree to them without understanding the implications.

I wonder if the story that you’re remembering about the law suit could be related to the class action suit that Google was requesting to be dismissed.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Facebook Graph Search Privacy Concerns – Be Careful What You LikeMy Profile

Maddy
Twitter:
August 16, 2013 at 7:28 pm

Another awesome coverage Perry! You made me fan of your blog and visiting it daily to get updates. I don’t have so much interest in Facebook, but Gmail matters to me and I think it’s the worst thing that Google has no respect of my privacy on gmail, I think after this update, I am not gonna share private things on gmail. My email ID on my blog’s Domain is a better option.
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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
August 18, 2013 at 11:01 am

Maddy,
I agree with you that using an email address with your blog’s domain is a far better option than using Gmail or any other 3rd party system. Why brand the other guy?
Google certainly doesn’t need the help.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Friday Finds: Gmail Privacy, Facebook Likes and SEOMy Profile

Susan Oakes
Twitter:
August 16, 2013 at 5:06 pm

Can’t say I am surprised about Gmail and I never send emails from the account. The one thing I have noticed about FaceBook is there seems to be more of these sponsored ads for you to like than there used to be. Thanks for the roundup Sherryl.
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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
August 16, 2013 at 7:25 pm

I don’t use Gmail either Susan. I actually forget to even check it. The only reason I have an account is because I needed one when I joined Google+.

Facebook is getting to be too cluttered to be useful. I’m really cutting down on the time I’m spending there.

Thanks for dropping by. I just caught up voting on your posts on BizSugar. I’ll be dropping by your blog again soon.

Steve Myring
Twitter:
August 16, 2013 at 3:20 pm

Hi Sherryl & others!
Yes this privacy thing with major companies like google, gmail facebook etc is becoming worrying. Where will it all end or when will we get clarity on what is private and whats not????

Thank
Steve

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
August 16, 2013 at 4:39 pm

Steve,
I had already believed that anything we post online could be there forever but it’s disturbing to read that Google has such a blatant disregard for Gmail. After all, lots of us created Gmail accounts only because we wanted to access something like Google+ or to download an Android app.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Friday Finds – Enhancing your Online Customer Experience & Logo DesignsMy Profile

Maddy
Twitter:
August 18, 2013 at 11:44 am

Actually I don’t have any good experience about using emails on blog domain. In the panel there is “horde” to use emails ids, but frankly speaking those panels are not user friendly. That’s the reason, why I am using gmail.
Maddy recently posted..Firefox 26 for Windows 8 Likely to Be Launched on December 10thMy Profile

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
August 18, 2013 at 8:41 pm

I find Horde cumbersome Maddy. I use it to access my email if I’m on my laptop or elsewhere but I have a POP3 account set up in my Outlook email client to automatically retrieve and send emails from multiple email accounts that I have for several domains.

If your domain has email, check to see if it’s POP3. You should be able to set it up similar to mine. Your hosting provider may be able to help you. (If not, shoot me an email with my contact form and I may be able to help you.)

Maddy
Twitter:
August 18, 2013 at 8:47 pm

Thanks a lot for this kind of favor perry! I would try setting up pop3 account as you said. I am having my own vps server and its managed hosting so hosting provider would love to help me to perform these settings.
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Jennifer Jinright
Twitter:
August 21, 2013 at 6:56 pm

Sherryl,
if people who “created Gmail accounts only because we wanted to access something like Google+ or to download an Android app” ONLY did so for those reasons and never changed their minds, then they shouldn’t have a problem with Google’s statement.

Truth be told, privacy on the internet is an urban legend. Somewhere, some hard disk stores every bit and byte you put out via internet (email, social media, app activity..) which means it can be made public by the owner of the hard disk because the own the storage medium. Or at least that’s how I look at it…

Even if that is just my way of making sure I’d never be upset if my info got put out there for all to see, there will always be the threat of hackers. They break through protocols and firewalls and so forth because they can a lot of times…trust me, I nearly married a former hacker.

Even traditional postal mail is subject to inspection. The only communication we have any hope of being private in any way is what we say in confined spaces to another where the two of us are the only ones around. And even THEN there is the threat of listening devices, if we want to get totally paranoid.

Basically, that is my long winded way of explaining why I don’t understand what the big freakin’ deal is… but then again, I often don’t LOL

Thanks for the links…some great reads in there. I’m headed off to check out the rest. Hope you have an awesome weekend!
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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
August 22, 2013 at 11:18 am

Jennifer,
You nearly married a former hacker? Interesting! It sounds like you have a very healthy attitude about online privacy (healthy for your peace of mind and mental outlook). Good for you!

I wouldn’t say that I’m overly cautious about online privacy but I am a little outraged. Well, not outraged exactly, I’m more disappointed and concerned that big companies like Google and Facebook are so blatantly mining our data and setting the groundwork that our expectations of privacy should be low or non-existent. I’m not a lawyer but I do have concerns that precedents are being formed. I’d feel better if there were more transparency.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. I appreciate it.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Facebook Graph Search Privacy Concerns – Be Careful What You LikeMy Profile

Susan Cooper
Twitter:
August 16, 2013 at 10:25 am

It not surprising about gmail. The fact is most if not all general email is subject to lack of privacy. It pays to be careful what is sent and communicated in an email.

I love the terms list. I had always wondered what some of the acronyms meant. Now I have a reference. Needles to say the SEO tools have been bookmarked for later use. Thank you for that. ????
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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
August 16, 2013 at 4:35 pm

LOL Susan. Have I created more work for you again? “)

Susan Cooper
Twitter:
August 16, 2013 at 4:42 pm

I think you have LOL. 😀
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dare khuji
Twitter:
August 16, 2013 at 8:46 am

Hi Sherryl,

It hurts to read such shocking news coming from Google on the use of Gmail privacy. While it is shocking and rude to say, it all reminds me of the great crash that will soon happen. I am referring to the dotcom burst.

If Google can come out to say their user’s Gmail privacy cannot be guaranteed, then one day, they will just come out and announce that they can no longer uphold the integrity of the web.
Well, that is the reason why they are gradually diversifying into tech and gadgets production, i.e the likes of mobile phones e.t.c.

It’s just my opinion anyway!!

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
August 16, 2013 at 4:03 pm

Hi Dare,
I welcome your opinion. I wasn’t surprised so much that they made those claims but it does seem unfair since having a Gmail account is often a requirement. (For example, you need a Gmail account to download many Android apps.)

You’ve raised a good point about Google diversifying. Google Glass immediately pops into my mind as an example of that.

Thanks for taking the time to contribute to the conversation.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Top 10 of the Most Interesting New TechnologiesMy Profile

Leora Wenger
Twitter:
August 16, 2013 at 8:42 am

I’ve seen a lot of those Facebook Like promotions. I didn’t realize it was so new. Just another annoying FB feature.

The SEO tool list is a good one, as is the SEO terms list.
Leora Wenger recently posted..Going on a Blog Hunt: Finding Blogs to ReadMy Profile

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
August 16, 2013 at 3:58 pm

Leora,
I think that Facebook is getting annoying too. I’m finding myself spending less time on there.

I like the SEO tool list too. I was surprised how many of them were new to me.

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